In November, 2015 CAMERA published an article about Little Town of Bethlehem, written and directed by Jim Hanon. This ugly propagandistic movie was produced by Mart Green, heir to the Hobby Lobby fortune and longtime CEO of Mardel’s, a chain of Christian bookstores that he founded. In the article, CAMERA highlighted some of the factual misstatements, omissions and distortions present in this movie.
One of the biggest problems with the movie is that it allows Sami Awad, executive director of the Holy Land Trust to tell viewers that “The First Intifada is a lot like the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.”
This is simply false. The First Intifada was marked by terrible acts of violence that would have been condemned by civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
Awad also tells viewers that unemployment increased during the Oslo peace process and that this increase was one of the contributing factors to the growing popularity of the terror organization Hamas prior to the Second Intifada.
In fact, unemployment in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank decreased during Oslo because of increased job opportunities in Israel.
Hamas suicide bombings and the security measures they prompted that caused increases in Palestinian unemployment in 1996. Once the bombings stopped, Israel relaxed the security measures, and unemployment continued to drop until the beginning of the Second Intifada when it went back up dramatically.
The movie got it exactly wrong. Palestinian violence caused Palestinian unemployment, not the other way around.
The film also allows a Palestinian commentator to demonize Israeli voters for electing Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister in 1996, asserting that his election proved a majority of the Israelis “did not want peace.”
The source does not mention, however, the scores of Israelis who were killed in suicide attacks prior to Netanyahu’s election. It was these bombings that helped Netanyahu win the election. Any honest documentary would acknowledge the role these attacks played in the 1996 election, but Mart Green’s movie did not.
Fortunately, it appears that the movie is no longer available. This movie, which was shown to more than 400 audiences soon after its release, is nearly impossible to obtain today.
What Happened and Why?
That the movie’s apparent disappearance from the market place took place after CAMERA highlighted problems with its propagandistic treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict suggests, but does not prove a causal relationship. It could be pure coincidence.
If the Green family decided to take the movie off the market, that’s a good thing. But Mart Green still needs to explain how such a dishonest movie was made and distributed in the first place.